Food & Swine

Cookie Dough & Stock Kids

I’m jogging backwards a bit in my posts to tell you about the sale after the Purebred Open Show at the Iowa State Fair and at the end of the post, a short remark about stockmanship and children after reading a misinformed journalist’s opinion of the swine show industry that was circulating this week. Bear with me, I have lots to tell ya.
Buying Back Cookie Dough: Our Duroc gilt, Cookie Dough (out of “Cinnamon”, who was the first pig I purchased with my mother-in-love Sandi with money I won from entering and winning cinnamon roll contests) was the popular pig in our group that we were selling and we had people swing by her pen to check her out. If I only had a nickel for every time I told them, “Sorry, but we’re buying her back.”, I’d have been able to buy a few more lemon-shake-ups. Prior to the show, people stopped by out of kindness and curiosity, (did they like my daughter’s glitter signs?) after the show… I knew why, they might want to buy my BABY!  (The pig not the girl.)
Could we have let them believe that we were going to run her through the sale and then plant someone to buy her back for us to truly see how much she’d have brought?  Asked our friends to bid her up, then snag her back? Sure. However, this wasn’t suitable to me because I was writing the ‘buyback check’ which for us meant we’d be paying the sale commission for the pleasure of showing her (she placed 1st so she made the sale) and running her through the sale.  Commission rate: 15%.  I knew I was taking her home, that was our family deal when I loaded her on the trailer to take her there.  Cookie Dough was coming home.  We left her sis “Sassy” home (I couldn’t bear the thought of her even leaving the farm, she is MINE.)
The sale was nearing and I was getting nervous. When they said bidder numbers were available, I left a 5 gallon bucket with water running into it to snag a bidder number.  First. One. To. Register. The kind staff giggled at me, and said I was the first bidder and I think the word ‘eager’ was in there. Got the #, then the paranoia set in. Something could happen, the auctioneer could miss the fact that I wanted to buy her back, my husband could forget our bidder #, get stuck talking to someone, gotten run over by a MAC truck on his way to the ring or killed by a monster hornet prior to making it to the sale.  (Okay, can you tell I was paranoid and worried?)
My daughter and I went into the ring, got some nods from the nice guys that came around to look at her and my husband took a front row seat next to the block and bought back my girl for me.  There was a moment at the end of the auctioneer’s call that I thought she may go to another bidder (a couple of guys that had been by to look at her but clearly MISSED the certainty in my tone that I’d be taking her home.)  I looked over at Michael L. and slightly shrieked “I’m taking HER HOME!”, then through the obnoxious chatter, I heard: “Bidder 681”. 
Thank you sweet baby Jesus.
The rest of the sale passed, her brothers did not sell (we have a nice buyer and his son from Nebraska on their way to pick them up tomorrow (8/30)… thank you Craigslist).  I wrote the check, we loaded them up and headed for home.
The reality of livestock showing is that  you do sell them (to others for breeding, or take them to market), and luckily for me, the gilts (girls: Sassy and Cookie Dough) are both going to be bred and stay around for a while.  I had a rough few days letting go of Jackson, our orphan boar who was sold, and the thought that my duroc boars may have to go to market.  I even had a good cry about my daughter’s hamp-looking barrow, Stripe that she showed in the Hawkeye Barrow show the last Sunday of the Fair.  I chalk all of this up to her upcoming departure to kindergarten.  I was an emotional mess.  I’m better now.
You’ll still find me in my barn daily, fawning over the pigs, meticulously mucking their stalls to some decent country music, while my son sifts through the dirt looking for bugs and my dog tries to eat every poo that I toss out of the pig pens (seriously Annie, WHY?).  Keeps me busy, keeps him dirty and keeps us from missing big sis too much during the day.  I miss Family Chore Days occurring more than just the weekends, where we all get to go to the barns together.  Here’s a look inside our modern barns.

Our Modern Barns vs. Our Hobby & Stockmanship: My husband is still holding down the modern pig barns.  Things are going well, pigs are growing well. (Our barns are called finisher barns and we get pigs that are 13-15 pounds and we feed them to market weight which is 280 lbs.)  Lots of the pictures I have and pig stories I tell are the pigs we have for hobby breeding and showing purposes. They are a smaller group and we still raise most of them for meat purposes, though some get to be shown. (all of them are used for meat purposes, eventually.) Our kids learn a great deal from these pigs and it gives us control to do it in a smaller space. They learn things like patience, health and detection of sickness, safe handling, feeding, proper care and husbandry.  We hope to give them a strong foundation for good stockmanship at a young age.  No matter what type livestock they will care for in their life (hogs, cattle, horses etc.), a solid grasp of stockmanship will serve them well. Not to mention, the discipline will serve them well going forward in their life too. 
 Stockmanship and Children:This week there was an article outlining some pretty uninformed journalist’s opinions of the swine show industry.  Never underestimate the poise, courteousness, pride and work ethic of a stock show kid.  Some of them come from large family farms, others raise a handful of animals. They are one in the same, working to raise the best animals they can, using the inherited ‘touch’ or learned values of stockmanship.  If there is one thing I’ve learned doing the ‘show’ thing only a couple of years (and not to the seriousness and extent that some of our friends and acquaintances do): people involved are like family. 
Losing my Daughter, Found with the help of Stock Kids:
Did I ever tell you about losing my daughter for 5 minutes last year at the Fair? She wandered off with another little girl (right next to me) to see the goats next to our pens. What felt like millions of people around… she was gone, in a flash. We had 20 people (most of which were Moms and KIDS who had been showing all day). They heard my frantic cries for my daughter and saw me running up and down the aisles. The answered by helping me find her, running around the aisles and shouting her name.  Luckily, I have a good friend, Mindy C. who locked in a security team on her phone and with the help of another Mom and her daughter who still had her exhibitor # on, we discovered my daughter with her friend near a pen of goats.  I was so scared, still am, about having her in crowds.  That was the scariest moment of my life.  Would you expect any kids to just hop out of their chair and clamor around looking for the ‘little girl with a pink shirt and large pink bow’?  Maybe not,  but let me tell you, these kids did.  I was impressed.  The values and goodness of these kids doesn’t go unnoticed in my book.  I’ll forever be thankful for everyone that day.  If you were one of those people, I want to thank you personally, someday.
If you ever have questions about modern pig farming, you can always send me a message via my Facebook Page Food & Swine.  I’ll never be an expert, but I learn more everyday and I know many people with expertise in different areas of pig farming and we’ll get any answer you need.

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a medal… or at least a jar of jam.  Leave a comment below (anything, just say hi!) and I’ll draw a couple of winners next Friday, I PROMISE!  :)  I’m making peach jelly and wild plum jelly tomorrow… just sayin’!

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  • Reply Sarah Dudley August 30, 2014 at 4:38 am

    I always love reading your posts Cristen!!!

    • Reply Cristen September 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      You’re a winner! See my comment below!

  • Reply Christine Wulf August 30, 2014 at 4:42 am

    I really enjoy your blog Cristen:)

  • Reply linda white August 30, 2014 at 5:03 am

    enjoy your writings always-know a little about pigs as they were our life before corp. took over and pushed people like us out-miss them yet today but not the work! they require lots of work!!!!

  • Reply Sue Ponder August 30, 2014 at 5:11 am

    I love reading your blog!! That picture of your daughter and her piglet is absolutely adorable!

  • Reply Chris August 30, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Thanks for sharing your story! We are visiting Iowa in October ( My husband was raised there ) and I’m anxious for my grandson to visit a pig farm – we had a pet pig for 23 years.

  • Reply Angie Mc August 30, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Hey friend!!! Great read, and yes, show people are great people and do become family! The fairs are great, did I ever tell you my mom and dad are together nearly 50 years in help with the polk co fair!? Either met or started dating there, can’t remember, but so glad they did;). Happy weekend!

  • Reply Sarah K August 30, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Growing up on a farm, I appreciate farm girls! I love your blogs! Keep writing and sharing!

    • Reply Cristen September 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      You’re a winner, see my comment below!

  • Reply August 30, 2014 at 11:51 am

    This is great. Coincidentally, last night I asked my 6 year old if he could wish for anything, what would it be, and he said “a pig.” We live in the suburbs of New York City, so it’s really an unusual wish. Wait til I show him your pictures.

  • Reply Bailey lee August 30, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Love reading your posts!

  • Reply Marla aka Crazy Mom August 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    My kids did the “show thing” on a small scale, county fairs. Done right, it teaches so much about responsibility! Ethics are learned, too; good, bad and ugly! ;)

  • Reply Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats August 30, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Great post! Ive always loved seeing families at the fair….you are doing a great job! And wild plum jelly? Yum!

  • Reply Carol August 30, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Nice post!! We’ll put!

  • Reply sandyrmillerSandy Miller August 30, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Great post as always! Thanks.

  • Reply Tracy August 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Hi there, so many amazing memories getting to stay with Handy and Sarry in the summers, and cousin Mike and I would spend all day in the pig barns, I understand your love completely and would have likely been the same way!! LOVE YOUR POSTS!!

  • Reply Danelle Kemery August 30, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I came from a bit different world, the horse show world, but the values are still the same. And the kids and parents in the smaller show communities are still like family to me.

  • Reply Christie Jensen August 30, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    What a great post!! Your blog is always so fun to read!

  • Reply Alan Guy August 30, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Great read (as always)… love hearing about the kids growing up (always too quickly) and reminiscing about our days at fairs. Sarah and Grace are detrrmined that we will have pigs (a venture I wasn’t raised with) so perhaps we should talk and you and Mike can give us some pointers and advice. Keep in touch.

    • Reply Cristen September 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      You’re a winner! See my post below!

  • Reply Lacy August 30, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Love reading all of your blogs, Cristen!

  • Reply Lacy August 30, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Opps *** blog posts ;)

  • Reply Lois August 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I “lost” my daughter once in a store; I was mad; relieved and. Distraught all day. She was in the middle of the clothes rack! It was a game for her; nightmare for me. vIVID memory

  • Reply Miss Molly August 30, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Your blogs are so helpful to us “city kids” who just don’t get it!

    • Reply Cristen September 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      You’re a winner, see below!

  • Reply Dell August 31, 2014 at 2:57 am

    I don’t know how I wound up here-but after browsing your
    webpage I needed to leave you a comment to say good fortune for the future –
    you have a genuinely raw expertise for this type of matter.

  • Reply Shannon August 31, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Love all of your posts, Cristen! Would love to have the jar of jelly but would love even more to meet you in person…can’t wait for the classes to start!! :) Shannon

    • Reply Cristen September 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      You’re a winner, see below!

  • Reply Jennifer Flaa (@JeniEats) August 31, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    I’m so happy you got to buy back Cookie Dough. Sounds like you’ve had quite a month with the farm and school. This time, I remembered your post about livestock buildings at the fair and I didn’t try to pet every single pig I saw at the fair last weekend:)

  • Reply Jessica September 1, 2014 at 3:11 am

    Love every one of your posts!

  • Reply Lauren September 2, 2014 at 1:24 am

    I love this!! I’m currently writing up a post about showing cattle… basically along the same lines as saying goodbye to the stock or being able to bring them home. #stockshowlife is not for everyone that’s for sure!! Will you happen to be showing at the Clay Co Fair Open Show? I’m making the long haul from the Southeast corner to show my bulls! :)

  • Reply Cristen September 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    We have WINNERS! I’m drawing 5 winners for the jar of jam today! Would Sarah D., Sarah K., Alan, Miss Molly and Shannon email me at with your physical address? I will send the jars of jelly to you, right away!

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